Mercy for Animals has once again given us access to the inner world of farming, and it isn't pretty. Country View Family Farms markets itself as a coalition of family farmers that infuses the local community with $12 million a year and offers a sustainable method of raising animals for their flesh.
An investigation (graphic video) into one of their 100 "family farms" gives a rather disturbing picture of what a "family farm" does to the animals in its care. Stephanie over at Change.org details the investigation and the reality these pigs endure.
I want to touch upon the statement Country View Farms issued that you can read here.
According to spokesperson, Dr. Jessica Clark, who also happens to be a veterinarian (scary),the pigs at this farm were "mishandled" and that the "high quality" of care were less than high at this farm and, wait for it, this was an isolated event.
Ignoring the bashing of piglets into door frames, the lack of medical treatment, and the improper stunning of a sow, standard operating procedures at this farm include:
Castration without pain relief: There is nothing illegal or uncommon in how the male piglets in the video are castrated. It happens every day on nearly every single farm to the more than 50 million male pigs born into this world. The video shows workers slicing open the scrotum of piglets and ripping out their testicles. Please imagine doing this to a dog or cat and explaining it away as "standard" and "quick" and that the "animals don't feel it for long".
Tail docking: All piglets have their tails sliced off with the same knife. All without pain relief.
Gestation and farrowing crates: Most of the 10-15 million sows in this country live in stalls so small they cannot turn around. They bite and chew their bars, trying desperately to cope with the trauma of forced confinement.
Tattooing: I am not certain how common tattooing sows without pain relief and with the same unsterilized sharp implements is in the country - it isn't a violation of any law, that is for sure. And the vet probably isn't referring to tattooing as a violation of this company's "high standards" of care.
Gassing piglets to death: This too is normal, though another acceptable method is cervical dislocation or bashing a piglet's head into a concrete floor. That's legal too. Gassing with CO2 is not nice or easy, it is frightening and painful.
Castration without pain relief, gestation crates, tattooing without pain relief and gassing are normal. They are not outliers that occur on isolated farms.
Do not worry, dear readers, all the 100 farms have undergone extensive re-training so that pigs won't be mishandled any more. I mean, they will still castrate pigs without pain-relief, still stab sows with sharp objects to mark them, still gas piglets to death, still house intelligent, social animals in cages so small they cannot turn around. But hey, maybe fewer piglets will be randomly bashed into walls and maybe fewer sows will be left to suffer from their intestines falling out of them. Hard to be reassured, isn't it?